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Jack La Rue,
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George E. Stone
The rise of John Dillinger from petty criminal (including, unforgiveably, holding up a cinema) via prison and bank robbery with his new convict associates to the accolade of Public Enemy Number One. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In a movie show at the beginning the film, there is a car, lettered with "First National Bank" drawn out of a swamp that's said to have been used in a hold-up of John Dillinger's. Later in the movie we learn that his First National heist was on a train, not a car. See more »
Tough crime drama that benefits from a tight running time
When Dillinger is sent to prison as a young man for a small scale robbery he winds up sharing a cell with Specs. Specs introduces Dillinger to his gang and he joins them. On his release Dillinger breaks the gang out of jail and they set out on a spree of well planned robberies. With tensions rising between the clinical Specs and the violent risk-taking Dillinger the mood in the gang become tense. Dillinger eventually takes over the gang leading them into increasingly dangerous jobs risking capture and death.
One of the many filmed versions of this gangster's life and death. It may also be one of the shortest, but by having a tight basic plot and good script it doesn't feel too short. The story is stripped down to key moments and events in Dillinger's life as told by his father, however this makes the film more urgent and tense compared to more rambling versions. However I suppose as a life story that's not really what you want, but here it works because it's a crime thriller rather than a biopic.
Lawrence Tierney was a bit of a hellraiser in his day and he brings a menacing streak to the role. Of those who don't watch films made before 1990 it may be a surprise to realise that this young man is the same as played Joe in Reservoir Dogs. The whole gang gives strong support especially Edmund Lowe as the harassed Specs, it's also always good to see Elisha Cook Jr, here playing Kirk.
Overall a taught little crime thriller that benefits from a tough cast and a short tense running time.
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